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HATCHLING

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 July 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cadiz Music Ltd
  • ASIN: B008CNG4UW
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

"Hatchling is the boldly imaginative second album from Emily Portman, one of the UK folk scene s most beguiling presences (Uncut). Having established a name for herself with her twice BBC Folk Award nominated debut The Glamoury (2010), the richly emotive and often understated rawness of Hatchling presents a blossoming of Emily s intricate songwriting while nodding to her traditional roots.

The darker sounds of myth, magic and antiquity are heard murmuring beneath the surface of an inventive and distinctly contemporary sound. Drawing from lullabies, English broadsides and apple-tree wassails, Hatchling enters a carnivalesque world of fallen angels, and fantastical metamorphosis, set against a backdrop of England s cities, shores and woodlands. Emily s trio (with rising stars Rachel Newton and Lucy Farrell) provides harp and bewitching close-harmonies. Guests include critically acclaimed songwriter Alasdair Roberts, cellist Lucy Deakin (Methera) and guitarist Jonny Kearney (Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell).

The title track `Hatchlings introduces fresh new sounds to Emily s distinctive voice: mesmerizing banjos and ringing bells accompany interweaving strings and harmonies that tell the tale of Leda and her egg-hatched twins. Hollin , a bold and majestic ode to the joys of wild living mixes numerous layers of harp, guitar and dark strings with a chorus of otherworldly harmonies. A tipsy, carnivalesque edge creeps into Emily s folk-noir style with Hinge of the Year , an intoxicating New-Year s tale inspired by Angela Carter s burlesque character Fevers in Nights at the Circus. Ash Girl is a haunting take on the fairytale of Ashputtle with skeletal accompaniment gradually fleshed out by eerie humming and the dark sound of bowed cymbals. The bright and quirky Old Mother Eve is a subversive retelling of the myth of Adam and Eve, presenting Emily s own writing sitting at home beside Apple-tree wassails. Jack , Sleeping Beauty and Scorching Sun present Emily s writing at its most daringly raw and exposed, with tales of shipwreck, war and sleeping love. Fragmentary tales of mermaids, sea-goddesses and submerged cities surface in `Sunken Bells , a song driven by sirenic voices, enchanting harp and banjos. Three unaccompanied lullaby extracts provide dramatic contrast to the layered complexity of the album; recorded live and unadorned Hushabye Birdie , Silver Swan and Black Sheep are a nod to Emily s roots in folk song, nurtured during her years singing with Waterson: Carthy on their Frost and Fire tours. Hatchling closes with a tender lullaby for world-weary grown-ups, showing the Emily Portman trio at the height of their powers, singing in unaccompanied harmony.

Hatchling rounds off a whirlwind year for Emily, with The Glamoury earning her widespread critical acclaim, international airplay, Mojo and fRoots top ten Folk albums of the year, not to mention a packed schedule of UK tours and festivals. 2011 has seen Emily become well known for her lyrical and beautiful voice (Songlines) and bewitching live performances."

BBC Review

A tale of wicked stepmothers and dubious meat pies, Emily Portman’s Stick Stock – from her 2010 debut album The Glamoury – was a brilliantly dizzy fairytale. Its dark comic genius deservedly bagged a BBC Folk Awards nomination.

On second album Hatchling, Portman spins similar stories. Themes of heady mythology dominate, with doves pecking at breasts, wild wolves at doors and deranged goddesses aplenty.

Eight of these fables are self-penned. Opener Hatchlings is the best. A powerful song rooted in the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Portman portrays the new mother of egg-hatched twins with fearful pride. The banjo on the track is quietly unsettling, perfectly matching the song’s paradoxical themes of maternal instinct and revulsion.

Also exemplary on this album are three fragmentary interludes of ancient lullaby – Hushabye Birdie, Silver Swan and, especially, Black Sheep. All are unaccompanied, and Portman’s pure vocals mesh with two other fine singers, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton. Their voices work in an almost primeval way; the witches of Macbeth could hardly sound eerier. The longer traditional, Hollin, also has something of this chant atmosphere, albeit one textured with harp and strings.

Unfortunately, Portman’s traditional interpretations highlight the diminishing returns of her own songs as the album wears on. Themes get repetitive, especially when taken in the context of her first album. The carnivalesque literature of Angela Carter is an acknowledged influence, but while Portman’s lyrics offer similar imagery, they lack Carter’s radical bite.

Portman simply comes across as too darn nice. It’s a problem that seeps into her delivery and arrangements, too. The words may tell of “vodka, and wine, and blood in the gutters,” but it sounds as if Portman would rather have a cup of tea and an early night.

This is an album, sadly, that shows little growth from her debut. Portman’s concerns are not developed enough for true conceptual unity, nor do they offer a satisfying diversity. What’s left is a frustrating piece, an album that – despite its lyrical claims to the contrary – watches the giddy lights of the fairground from a safe distance.

--Chris Power

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Emily's debut album, The Glamoury, was one of my favourites of that year. Her second offering continues the same type of disturbing fantasy themes, dwelling on swans and lullabies this time. The opening track, Hatchlings, tells the story of Leda, and her 2 sets of twins in the form of swans hatched from eggs. Silver Swan is based on a madrigal sung beautifully with Lucy Farrell. Lullaby fragments include Hushabye Birdy and Black Sheep. There are 2 songs that are inspired by Angela Carter story's, Hinge of the Year a more contemporary tale based around an intoxicated New year, and Ash Girl tells of a lost child helped by a dead mother. Macabre images with memorable lyrics run through the album, such as the opening to Sleeping Beauty, " I break my finger just to see three drops of blood that tell me I'm not sleeping". Hollin reflects the love of the joys of nature, with some new verses added to an old song. Emily takes lead vocals, sometimes with a "little girl" voice, playing concertina, banjo and ukele. She is joined on the album by Lucy Farrell on harmony vocals,viola and saw; and Rachel Newton on harmony vocals together with harp and fiddle. Many of the compositions are original songs apart from the lullaby extracts, with a cover of the traditional Old Mother Eve,a subversive retelling of the biblical Adam and Eve story. There are special guest spots by Jonny Kearney on guitar, Will Scrimshaw on percussion, ,Lucy Deakin on Cello and Alasdair Roberts on guitar and vocals. Overall, I found this was not quite as immediate as her debut, but the songs grow on you with repeated plays. She has come up with an excellent strong second album cornering a niche of wierd fantasy folk songs, with memorable lines that stay with you. The multi- tracking of vocals at times can be spine tingling , and it is distinctly different.
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Beautiful, delicate, magical music, some penned by Emily Portman, some traditional songs arranged by her.
Don't be fooled by the ethereal lightness of touch - this music has a real dark side to it, as well as some powerful messages. She cites inspiration from author Angela Carter and the subversion of the fairy tale.
Emily Portman is a master craftsman of song and her tunes will stay in your head for a long time, as will her haunting and unique singing.
Brilliant.
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Once again I found Emily's vocal qualities utterly entrancing. The quality of her voice drew me in as with her previous album "The Glamoury" from the very beginning. The arrangements are sparse yet utterly compelling and it is evident from the summary of the sources she drew from (in the pullout in the CD cover) that they are varied and well sourced: A lullaby from the Queen of Sparta to a self penned lullaby for "world-weary grown-ups" via a madrigal from Orlando Gibbons. Best of all it's another great CD from a Newcastle upon Tyne based folk singer!
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Emily Portman continues to elaborate on her highly original and emotional charged 'glamorous' vision of the World. Nothing to match Tongue-tied here, but still excellent. I would also like to hear Emily's take on more traditional songs.
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Having been mightily pleased by Emily Portman's first album "Glamoury", I bought "Hatchlings" on the strength of listening to the brief samples of each track on Amazon. I was not disappointed. Ignore the rather sniffy review on the BBC website, which is critical of a perceived "lack of development" from the first album.
The last time I was this impressed by anyone offering a different twist on music inspired by tradition, mythology and folklore, it was Spiers & Boden. I now own all their albums. All are superb, and all are in the same mould - why attempt spurious "development" when the music arrives as magical and fully-formed as theirs, or as Leda's offspring in the title track of "Hatchlings"?

I can't wait for the third album. And I hope, when it comes, to find that Emily Portman's music continues to delve the same themes and to weave the same magic.
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Outstanding and beautiful - this delightful CD has captured the essence of every faery tale I ever loved - it is weird and wonderful. Particularly fond of Ashgirl and Sleeping beauty -- my small niece and I sing happily to 'Old Mother Eve she liked apples' - I have never heard such a positive twist to our old creation story. Then there is Emily whose vocal style is both simple, clear and beautiful. I heard her sing 'Stick Stock' one night on Mike Harding and her voice and artistry captured me. I am now a devoted fan.
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